Pap Test Success for Incest Survivor

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I am an amazon! I had a pap test and negotiated for what I needed. Yay me.

I went to the drop in clinic today because I have a stomach bug (at least that’s what I thought) that wasn’t going away. The doctor ruled out the bug pretty quickly and then asked if I had pap tests regularly.  I said no. She asked if I was ready to have one today. I decided I was up for it. She wanted to check and see if there was something wrong with my uterus.  I decided I was. 

She handed me a paper sheet and was about to leave the room when I said “can I sit up for the test?” At first she said no. If I hadn’t already had a perfectly normal pap test sitting up,   I would have believed her. I explained how the other woman had done it with the back of the table up. She said “I don’t  know how to do it that way”. I said “I’m a rape survivor and I’d be more comfortable.” Her face softened an almost imperceptible amount and she said she would try.

I told her that the other woman had lifted up the back part of the table. She set it to an upright position and left the room so I could change. I’m not sure if she went online and looked up how to do it, because she was gone for awhile.

When she came back she had me sit on the table with my knees bent and my feet touching, then allow my knees to fall apart from each other. I think this was the part she looked up. She didn’t use the stirrups. This was actually even better than sitting up with the stirrups. Then she did the pap test pretty normally and fast. She seemed impressed that it wasn’t any harder to do in that position.  I told her that a group of doctors in Alberta had published a booklet that suggested it as a better way to do pap tests for survivors, and it certainly worked better for me. She said it might be a good new way to do it for everyone, since most women don’t like to lay down (it sounded like herself included).

Rape survivor is so much easier to say, and yet still correct, than childhood sexual assault survivor, incest survivor or any of the terms that bring in the messy details of my age when it happened or who was the perpetrator.

Anyhow, I came through unscathed, no meltdown, no triggers, feeling empowered. I think I have this blog to thank for being able to be so articulate with my doctor. I’ve gotten so much more comfortable with thinking about and talking about my vulva and what I need as a survivor. It’s really common after all.

My next step I think is to try and find a specialist to do some reconstructive surgery on my vulva, and get rid of those little sore tags of flesh.

Here’s a link to the booklet I was referring to:

  1. Random lurker popping in to say I’m glad the test went so well for you. The information sheet is great and I wish everything on it was standard practise, or offered to all patients. None of it is very difficult and it seems like a lot kinder of a way to do things.

    (Minor trigger warning for the next bit for unpleasant gynecologist experiences? I don’t know if it’s necessary but figured it couldn’t hurt.)

    I’m not a survivor, but I have had some really awful pap smear experiences that make me reluctant to get more unless absolutely, direly necessary, and… well, if the doctors had followed that checklist I definitely wouldn’t have. But it does bring up some good ideas of what to discuss before the next time I have to get one.

    • I agree that it would be great if everything on that list was standard practice. Then survivors (and those who have other reasons to hate pap tests) wouldn’t have to work up the nerve to ask or negotiate.

  2. This is the coolest post!!! I love that you used rape survivor, so much simpler for people to understand. Very smart of you! You continue to be a model for me! Yay Warrior!

  3. Hi SDW,
    Good for you. I went recently as well. I think it is good to do, even as hard as it is, it is a good thing to do for our health. Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

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